The basic building blocks of marketing are the 4 P's. These are the things that can be tailored to match values and interests of specific buyers. So these are factors that you may want to investigate in order to gain a competitive advantage.
PRODUCT Elements of the product range from its physical properties (e.g. durable, colorful, contemporary-looking) to a mental image (e.g. safe, trendy, ecologically responsible).
PRICE This includes psychological "costs" such as inconvenience in addition to the actual purchase price.
PROMOTION Most people think first of paid advertising but other forms of promotion such as coupons, free samples, or hiring actors to stir up some buzz before a product launch can also be effective ways to get the target customer's attention.
PLACE/DISTRIBUTION This notion encompasses anything about where buyers get the product from point of access (big box stores, Internet, catalog sales, etc.) to the level of training and expertise sales people possess.
1. Business Data and Statistics from SBA.gov
A good place to start is SBA.gov’s Business Data and Statistics page, where you’ll find a collection of resources providing free access to information about business and economic conditions and indicators collected by the U.S. government. Whether you sell to businesses or consumers, these sites include data and statistics on income, employment, trade, and manufacturing, and plenty more.
2. The U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau (www.census.gov) maintains a vast repository of information that is quick and easy to navigate, thanks to a variety of Data Access Tools. For example, with The American FactFinder, just enter a city and state and the tool will generate multiple options for viewing social, economic, household and demographic data for your town or future location.
The main site has also been newly re-launched to make it very simple to find the data you need, including a neat interactive map that shows a mash-up of economic and demographic statistics for any town, city, or state in America.
If you want data but don’t know which agency maintains or produces it, head on over to FedStats.gov. This no-frills data-driven site provides access to a full range of official statistical information produced by the federal government without having to know in advance which federal agency produces which particular statistic. Data is available on wide-ranging topics, including economic and population trends, crime, education, health care, aviation safety, energy use, and farm production.
4. Small Business Statistics
Interested in statistics about how small business is doing? The SBA Office of Advocacy conducts and publishes its own research on topics such as the small business economy.
For briefings on retail sales, durable goods, manufacturing, construction, new home sales, and more, Economicindicators.gov provides access to daily releases of key economic indicators from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau. This is probably your best bet if you're looking for one site that says it all.
Visit SBA’s guide to Conducting Market Research for tips on how to put this data and other information to use.